First things first, let’s clarify what irritable bowel syndrome actually is. IBS is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that primarily affect the large intestine. Some of the most common symptoms that fall under the IBS umbrella include:
The exact cause of IBS isn’t clear at this point. However, researchers are learning more every day about the condition and its potential causes.
There are a number of possible factors that can lead to the development of the symptoms of IBS, including:
Recent research also suggests that people who are deficient in endocannabinoids (the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors) are also susceptible to IBS.
The endocannabinoid system (also known as the ECS) plays an important role in regulating a number of the body’s functions, including:
In 2008, a researcher and neurologist named Dr. Ethan Russo was the first to suggest that an endocannabinoid deficiency could cause IBS.
He has argued that people who don’t contain a sufficient number of cannabinoids are more susceptible to some of the most common symptoms of IBS, such as pain and nausea.
Some researchers have said that low levels of serotonin can contribute to IBS. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced primarily in the digestive system.
People like Russo disagree with this assertion, noting that serotonin-targeting medications are not particularly successful in treating IBS symptoms.
More research still needs to be conducted to see if cannabis is more effective in treating IBS. There are a number of anecdotal reports touting its benefits, but there is a lack of clinical evidence to back up these claims.
Listed below are some of the most commonly studied symptoms of IBS, along with specific information on how medical cannabis products can be used to treat them.
Cannabis can be extremely beneficial for people who struggle with diarrhea-dominant irritable bowel syndrome. It’s been shown to reduce hypermotility. This term refers to food moving too quickly through the GI tract.
Cannabis can also ease abdominal cramping that contributes to diarrhea.
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. For years, cannabis has been used to treat all kinds of pain, including in the abdomen.
Cannabis reduces pain sensitivity and also reduces inflammation throughout the body — especially in the GI tract and intestinal lining — to further benefit people with IBS.
People with IBS often suffer from mental health conditions like depression and anxiety in addition to physical pain and discomfort.
What’s worse is that depression and anxiety can actually worsen other symptoms of IBS and cause those who suffer from the condition to feel as though they’ll never get better.
Cannabis, specifically the non-psychoactive component known as CBD (cannabidiol), has been shown to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. It works as both an immediate treatment and also has longterm positive effects.
Now that you know how effective cannabis can be in treating the symptoms of IBS, let’s go over the most effective ways to use it.
You have several options when it comes to consuming cannabis to treat your IBS symptoms. Some of the most popular methods of administration include:
If you don’t live in a state where medical or recreational cannabis is legal, you may be able to buy versions these products that are only made with hemp-derived CBD only. Hemp-derived CBD is legal throughout the U.S.
CBD oil and other products are best for treating pain and anxiety associated with IBS. They can also be used to relieve spasms in the intestinal tract that lead to diarrhea and cramping.
If you are using the cannabis plant to treat your symptoms, it’s important to keep in mind that some strains are better than others when it comes to providing relief from IBS. It all depends on the specific symptoms you’re looking to treat.
If you’re looking for cannabis to help with depression and anxiety, some strains to try include:
For those who want to help control diarrhea caused by IBS, these strains are good options:
To treat abdominal pain, consider one of these strains:
If you’re not sure which strain is right for you, talk to someone at your local dispensary to find out what they recommend. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — they’re there to help and want you to have a good experience.
If you want to use CBD oil or another CBD-infused product to treat your IBS, it’s important to make sure you’re getting high-quality CBD that will actually relieve your symptoms.
CBD has become very popular in the last few years, but the market is largely unregulated. This means that lots of companies are duping customers desperate for relief with sub-par products.
If you want to use CBD oil, CBD topicals, or CBD vape oil to treat your IBS symptoms, keep these tips in mind to make sure you’re getting a good product.
Be especially wary when you’re buying CBD online. Look for online reviews and check out a company’s Better Business Bureau rating to make sure they’re a legitimate business and don’t have any questionable complaints against them.
As you can see, cannabis can be extremely beneficial for minimizing the symptoms of IBS.
But, it’s important to note that, so far, there is no research that suggests that cannabis can cure IBS.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use cannabis or CBD-only products to treat your condition.
When you’re IBS symptoms are under control, you’ll feel better and have more energy to put toward identifying and combating the root cause of your disorder. Cannabis can be a great stepping stone to help you overcome IBS, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a treatment option in and of itself.
If you want to learn more about medical cannabis and how it can be used to treat the symptoms of IBS, check out some of our other articles today.